Frequently Asked Questions 

Where is Chicago Public Schools headquarters?

The administrative offices (also referred to as Central Office) for Chicago Public Schools are located at 125 South Clark Street, Chicago, Illinois, 60603.

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What is Options for Knowledge?

Options for Knowledge is the "umbrella" term that is inclusive of all of the specialty schools/programs that students can apply to outside of their neighborhood school. These consist of elementary and high school magnet schools, magnet cluster schools, high school magnet programs, open enrollment schools, regional gifted centers, classical schools, academic centers, international gifted programs, International Baccalaureate schools, and selective enrollment high schools. The application, selection, and notification process for these schools is managed by the Office of Access and Enrollment.

How do I apply to Options for Knowledge schools and programs?

You may submit an online application or a paper application. You are encouraged to submit your application using the online application process, which is provides for faster processing and improved communication. To apply online, visit www.apply.cps.edu Opens in a new window icon and request a Personal Identification Number (PIN) to begin the process. To apply with a paper application, visit www.cpsoae.org Opens in a new window icon and download the application of your choice under "Apply" and "Application Materials." The application process starts October 1st each year and ends in mid-December for the following school year.

Does my child have to take a test to get into an Options for Knowledge school?

Most schools select students through a computerized lottery – no testing is required.  However, we do have schools designed for academically advanced students – Regional Gifted Centers, Classical Schools, Academic Centers, International Gifted Programs, and Selective Enrollment High Schools.  For these schools, admission testing is required.

In addition, for Academic Centers, International Gifted Programs, and Selective Enrollment High Schools, the selection process includes the student's prior year's standardized test scores and final grades.

Schools that require testing do not conduct a computerized lottery.

Students with disabilities are encouraged to apply to these schools, and testing accommodations will be provided in accordance with the student's IEP or 504 Plan.

What is the difference between regional gifted centers and classical schools?

Both regional gifted centers and classical schools serve academically advanced students at the elementary school level. Both types of schools accelerate learning so that there is time for projects, term papers and group work that takes the learner deeper into the subject matter, and the curriculum for both types of schools includes a world language component.

Regional gifted centers place an emphasis on thinking, reasoning, problem solving and creativity. The test for regional gifted centers assesses the student's critical thinking skills and reasoning abilities.

Classical schools place an emphasis on scholarship with a liberal arts focus. The test for classical schools assesses the student's reading, language arts, and mathematics abilities.

Do I have another chance to apply if my child isn't accepted into to any Options for Knowledge schools?

Yes. If additional spaces are available after the fall application process has ended, an end-of-year application process is conducted in the spring. This applies to magnet schools, magnet cluster schools and open enrollment schools only.

Can students with disabilities apply to Magnet or Gifted Schools and Programs?

All students with disabilities are eligible to apply to magnet and gifted schools and programs. Appropriate services within these programs will be provided to meet individual needs. If a student is selected by lottery for a magnet school or program that is not accessible, transportation will be provided to a comparable magnet program at an accessible school.

Are students with disabilities required to meet entrance exam requirements for enrollment?

Students with disabilities are required to take entrance tests at schools that require them.  Applicable test accommodations described in the student's Individualized Education Program (IEP) or 504 Plan will be made available.  For example, if a child has a fine motor impairment and cannot fill in the bubbles on the answer sheet, a person will be provided to scribe for them.  A child with a visual impairment may require large print or Braille.  The goal is always to measure the student's knowledge or ability, and not the disability.  However, to be considered for any program for academically advanced students, all applicants need to earn a score that demonstrates they can compete and succeed in an accelerated program. Depending on the applicant pool, some students with disabilities may be accepted with lower test scores than general education students.  However, no student will be admitted whose score is not representative of a student who can succeed in an advanced environment.

Can English Language Learners (ELL) apply to Magnet and Gifted Schools and Programs?

Yes. All ELLs are eligible to apply to magnet schools and programs. Additionally, there are several Regional Gifted Centers that are designed specifically for ELL students.

Who should I contact if I have more questions about getting into an Options for Knowledge school, or if I want more information about the programs?

For further information, call the Office of Access and Enrollment at (773) 553-2060 or oae@cps.edu.

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Where can I view school year calendars?

You can view calendars for regular and year-round CPS schools online. Calendars are available for download and can also be viewed in our Calendar sections below:

Key events

Student days off

For specific school information (i.e. start dates, lunch schedules, Charter school calendars), contact your child's school.

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How can I check my child's grades online?

 

Use the Parent and Student Portal to check grades and attendance online. View the links below for more information.

 

Check your child's grades

Check your grades

Parent Portal overview

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How old does my child have to be to start Kindergarten?

According to Illinois state law, your child must be 5 years old by September 1, 2008, to begin kindergarten in the 2008-09 school year.

How can I enroll my child in a Chicago Public School?

All children residing in the City of Chicago have a neighborhood school. Neighborhood schools have attendance boundaries and priority is given to students who live within the attendance boundary. If you are interested in enrolling in your neighborhood school, please contact the school directly. You will need to bring the following documents when and enrolling registering your child: 1) child’s proof of age, 2) proof of current address, and 3) health requirements, including physical examination, immunization and dental. Also, Please be sure to contact the school to verify the list of required documents for registration.

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Where can I find info about CPS jobs?

New job listings are posted every Wednesday online. You can view additional job information and apply for job listings on the Human Resources website.

I'm a CPS employee. Who do I contact if I have a staff-related question?

Current employees can view CPS benefits and personnel information Opens in a new window icon online. There you can view paychecks, personal information, benefits, and contact names and numbers for our various HR departments.

How can I learn more about your HR department?

Human Resources has a special website dedicated to both future and current members of the CPS team.

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What is the NCLB transfer program?

Read more information about the transfer program for elementary and high school students.

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What is the difference between a Magnet School and a Magnet Cluster School?

A magnet school usually does not have a neighborhood attendance boundary and accepts students citywide. Magnet schools that do not have an attendance boundary require that students submit an application, no matter where they live. Most magnet schools offer transportation to students who live more than 1.5 miles but less than 6 miles from the school.

A magnet cluster school is a neighborhood school that has an attendance boundary and gives priority to students who live within that boundary. Students who live within the attendance boundary of a magnet cluster school do not need to submit an application. Students who live outside the attendance boundary must submit an application to be considered for acceptance. Most magnet clusters contain four to six elementary schools. You may apply to any school in any magnet cluster. Transportation is not provided to these schools.

Both magnet schools and magnet cluster schools place an emphasis on one particular subject area, such as math and science, world language, or fine and performing arts, in addition to offering the core subject areas. Each school profile identifies the specialty of the school. There is no limit to the number of magnet schools or magnet cluster schools to which you can apply. In addition, you may apply to any school, regardless of how close or far away you live from the school. Acceptance to these schools is based on a computerized lottery.

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My child currently attends a Magnet School, but we are moving. Can my child transfer to the Magnet School in my new neighborhood?

No. Your child can continue to attend his or her current magnet school, and he or she will continue to receive transportation if you still reside less than six miles from the school. However, he or she may not automatically transfer to any other magnet school. If you want your child to attend another school, you must go through the application and lottery or testing process again.

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How can I request a copy of my transcripts?

To obtain a copy of your transcripts please fill out an Application for Student Records. Applications can be found by visiting our Student Records page. You can mail or fax the application to the locations provided on the form.

When will I receive my transcripts?

If you graduated prior to 1989, it can take up to 10-15 business days to receive your transcripts. If you graduated after 1989 it can take 2-3 business days.

Who do I contact with questions regarding my transcripts?

For additional questions, please contact Former Student Records at(773) 553-2340.

How do I know if you received my fax?

Due to the large number of faxes we receive, we cannot provide confirmation of receipt. However, most fax machines print out a message confirming the recipient's phone number and number of pages sent. Please use that printout as your confirmation message.

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How do I download Adobe Acrobat reader, if I am unable to open a PDF document?

You can download the Adobe Acrobat reader software by visiting the Adobe website.

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